Monday, July 30 2012

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house mates managing the bills

From bills to joint facials, having housemates can be a great experience. Image Credit: Spikeyhelen | Flickr

When it comes to flying the nest and renting a place of our own, often a shared house is one of the first steps. Finding housemates can range from the best of friends to people you don’t even know yet. Either way one thing you have to sort is the good old money money money – so how can you sort through those flatmate finances?

Tenancy Agreement

First up is your Tenancy Agreement, you will need to sign this before you move in, normally a tenancy agreement is a joint one between everyone who lives in the house. This means if one person doesn’t pay up then you are all liable. So what can you do?

First off you could call a house meeting and discuss the issue as a group, also come with solutions to suggest to that person – “could they ask their parents for a hand, take an extra shift as work etc” this might make it easier for them to sort it out, or explain what the issue is.

In some situations you maybe able to sign individual agreements so you are only liable for your portion of the rent – make sure you check out which type of agreement you are signing and know your rights and responsibilities.

It’s also likely you will need to pay a bond. You are well protected with your bonds these days as they have to be lodged by your landlord to the Residential Tenancies Authority. Why is this good? Well a dodgy landlord can longer claim the house is a right off and keep the bond, even though you cleaned it to perfection, without good reasoning. The Authority acts as a middle body making sure everyone’s rights are recognised. Visit the Residential Tenancies Authority for more information.

Utility Bills

In a normal rental you may have internet, telephone, power and gas. How do you work out who pays what?

One thing I did during my many years of sharing was have a house hold kitty. We estimated the costs off all the bills and all paid in a weekly sum. For the phone we shared the rental costs and then all wrote down the calls we made and tallied it at the end of each month.  This was great because never did we get a bill we didn’t have the dosh for, and normally ever three months the kitty account would be nicely in credit and we’d have some spare to fund a house event; party, group dinner, BBQ which was always a winner.

The internet bill can be a bit trickier, as if housemate Dan is an avid gamer and movie down-loader, where as you just like a bit of lightweight Facebooking this can be hard to split. You could all opt to have your own internet plans using the mobile broadband range, or look for some unlimited plans and split the cost. Remember to check the term of your agreement for this, a two year sign up plan might not be best if the shared house is just for the uni semesters for example.


What about the food? Joint shop or take care of your own? This really depends on the type of household you have created as a group. If you all have a similar routine, like the same type of food and one doesn’t eat double the quantity in a day (I know I wouldn’t want to share  the food bill with my brother I’d never have a biscuits or cereal to eat!) then each to their own might be the way.  Although the good old household kitty mentioned above can be good to cover toilet rolls, cleaning stuff etc.

Let us know you house sharing finance tips below…



One Response to “Flatmate Finances”

  1. Xin says:

    What great advice! Definitely going to bring these ideas up at my next household meeting.

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